Potential biomarker: Dr Aparna Jayachandran and her team are exploring the PAPP-A protein. Photo: SUPPLIED

Grant boosts breast cancer research

July 30, 2021 BY

THE Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute is the recipient of a Perpetual 2021 IMPACT Philanthropy program grant with the money going towards boosting the facility’s triple negative breast cancer research.

The Harry Secomb Foundation and William G. Maxwell Trust have awarded the funding to head of breast cancer research Dr Aparna Jayachandran and her team including co-investigators Professor George Kannourakis, Dr Prashanth Prithviraj, and South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute’s Dr Sushma Rao.

“Triple negative breast cancers affect more than 300,000 women worldwide annually, and causes about 25 per cent of all breast cancer-related deaths,” Dr Jayachandran said.

“It’s the deadliest form of breast cancer because currently there is no targeted drug therapy available and no biomarker or indicator that allows us to monitor the aggressiveness of this disease.

“This grant will allow us to address these two very crucial clinical problems in triple negative breast cancer.”

In 2020, the FECRI team identified a link between high levels of the PAPP-A protein – pregnancy associated plasma protein – with poor survival in triple negative breast cancer patients.

For this reason, the PAPP-A protein is at the centre of further investigation.

“The goal for this project now is to establish whether PAPP-A can be a potential biomarker that can help us reliably monitor the aggressiveness of triple negative breast cancers, and secondly, we are studying the protein network of PAPP-A to identify potential and robust drug targets,” Dr Jayachandran said.

“If successful, this project can lead to potential breakthroughs in the areas of biomarker, drugs or therapy, and improve the outlook of all individuals who are affected by triple negative breast cancer, so we’re very grateful for this boost the grant is providing us for the next 12 months.

“If we didn’t get the funding from our Ballarat community as well, our research would not be possible. It’s helped us identify a very important protein.”

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